Manilka Ediriweera identifies the value added needed for corporate success

There is no doubt that today’s customers have a plethora of options to choose from, as well as access to plenty of resources and information, thanks to the internet and technology. As a result, they are better informed and more knowledgeable than in the past.

This has created a power shift from companies to customers; and the latter now wields significant power in the buying process, which validates the phrase ‘the customer is king’ more strongly.

Normally, the customer’s trust in an enterprise is what differentiates businesses and provides a competitive advantage. But since today’s buyers base their loyalty on experiences, businesses can retain their customers’ trust in and loyalty to their brand by providing a remarkable customer experience (CX).

So what exactly constitutes this phenomenon?

CX can be defined as the perception that a customer has of your brand. It’s all about putting their needs at the centre and ensuring that they enjoy a flawless experience throughout their journey.

It deals with customer satisfaction and service, and how a business engages with buyers at every touch point. CX encompasses every aspect of the customer’s journey, from satisfaction and service to marketing products or service features, as well as convenience and reliability.

How was your last customer experience? Was it good and did it make you happy? Or was it a relatively poor experience?

If your interaction with a brand leaves you feeling happy and satisfied afterwards, there’s a higher probability of you returning as a customer. But if your experience was poor, you wouldn’t want to return.

Poor customer experience drives customers away faster than we realise and it doesn’t matter if the brand is famous or not. Amazon supremo Jeff Bezos says: “We see our customers as invited guests to a party and we’re the hosts. It’s our job every day to make every important aspect of the customer experience a little bit better.”

This makes sense because it is only if the host has pulled out all the stops and guests are enjoying themselves that they consider the party to be enjoyable.

Likewise, businesses must do their best to ensure that customers are satisfied and happy throughout their journey. A positive experience is vital because a happy and satisfied customer is more likely to turn into a loyal follower in today’s milieu.

Furthermore, such customers will also promote the business for you through word-of-mouth marketing. This in turn will boost the organisation’s revenue streams and lead to corporate success.

Forrester Research conducted a study in 2016, which revealed that genuinely “customer obsessed” businesses derive higher profits and revenue. This is quite obvious because currently, it’s the customer rather than the seller who has power in the marketplace.

Therefore, it was no surprise that in Adobe’s 2020 Digital Trends report, the customer experience was ranked higher than content, video and social media marketing – because satisfied customers are the best source to grow brand awareness and increase a company’s bottom line.

The more customer obsessed a company is, the happier and more satisfied its buyers are. And that translates into a more successful business, which leads us to our next question: how can businesses create a positive customer experience?

When creating a positive customer experience, it’s essential to identify factors that people value more in their customer experience.

These factors include convenience, personalisation, efficiency, friendly service, speed, up-to-date technology and social responsibility. When these expectations are met, companies can deliver a memorable customer experience and gain rewards.

If you need to know more before you’re convinced that customer experience should be an integral part of your business strategy, here are some interesting statistics.

A study conducted by PwC in 2018 revealed that for 73 percent of people, customer experience is an essential factor when it comes to their purchasing decisions. And a 2019 Forrester study showed that companies with good customer-centric strategies, which lead in customer experience, outperform laggards by about 80 percent.

So it is important to make CX a part of the business strategy especially in this experience economy. It’s imperative that businesses know their customers like the back of their hands. However, it is also necessary to keep two things in mind – viz. employees drive the experience and technology is only an enabler (it does not solve CX problems).

So it goes without saying that it’s only when these factors are considered that customer experience can be considered a win-win strategy that reaps benefits and creates mutual value, to both businesses and customers.